Up to date

Hi there.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve written a new blog post, and for that I’m really sorry.  Life just gets really busy over here and I guess I never really thought people would care to know about the day in-day out life of a city girl turned farmer.  So much has gone on since I’ve last written, it would take me hours and hours to just write down about what’s gone on in our family life and work life.  So in order to not bore you all to death I’m not going to.  (Your welcome!)  If you’d like  any additional details feel free to ask.

It’s been a rough year here.  I’m not going to lie.  I don’t want a pity party or to seem like a complainer but I will tell you that some major entities are to blame for this.  I say that, yet I serve a MIGHTY KING who is above all and nothing is out of His reach. He knew this would all happen and is training us through it.  Would you like to know what’s going on?  Ok I’ll tell you.

{A note to those reading this.  Please please read the labels of what you buy.  Gerber Amish Chicken is a popular competitor of ours.  They promote their food as being fed a vegetarian feed.  Think about that for a second folks.  Vegetarian means no meat right?  That means they are NOT in the grass eating bugs and grubs the way they were meant to by their Creator!  Vegetarian fed is NOT a good thing.  Think about what the label isn’t telling you by what it is telling you.  Brown eggs are no better than white eggs in and of themselves.  It ALL matters about what the chicken ate.  Did they feed on grains all day long or munch on bugs and grass and some grain?  Color doesn’t mean jack.}

In short, we lost some major chicken sales in the Pittsburgh Market.   On the flip side of that part of the tale the restaurant Cure in Lawrenceville with chef Justin Severino told us that he knew what had happened and he loves our chicken and was sticking with us.   What a great feeling.

A year later we still have some restaurants that have stuck with us.  Cure, Cioppino, Lidias (chicken liver), and the Supper Club in Greensburg are our old faithfuls.  This season started to roll around and I started making my regular calls to restaurants and such.  In years previous we had also sold a good deal of our chicken through the East End food Co-op in Pittsburgh.  Long story short – they didn’t want us this year because they had just added a new supplier and didn’t have space for us.  OUCH!  We had worked with them for over 5 years!   We do still market our eggs through them though.    So now we’re down some big restaurants and the co-op.    More fun things happened throughout the season.  Our barn burned to the ground in Feb, Farm Co-operatives didn’t pan out like they said they would, and chicken sales were drastically low, and restaurants weren’t buying what they said they wanted.  Pete and I knew we had to start thinking of other options here.  Was this really where we were supposed to be? Was God calling us elsewhere?  Pittsburgh is a long way from home gas wasn’t getting any cheaper.   Our local market can’t sustain us.  I should change that.  They won’t sustain us.  They could if they chose to.   If people bought their meats & veges from us we’d be more than fine financially.  Yet people don’t want to think about where their food is coming from.

It matters folks.  It matters to God and it matters to your body.  I heard someone tell me once, “Well God designed our bodies to be able to handle those chemicals in food.” Really?  Then why weren’t there Twinkies in the Garden of Eden?  No our bodies weren’t meant to deal with chemicals.  Man made chemicals.  And read the Bible  if you don’t think God cares about how animals are treated? God gave special instructions on how animals were to be treated.  So remind me, if God cares about something are we who call ourselves followers of Him supposed to ignore it?  Care about how your food was raised, how it was treated, and what it ate.  It all affects you and your body.

So back to what’s been going on. We decided to add sheep to our repertoire here on Heritage Farm.  Sheep are easy to raise and have  a decent profit margin.  We really like our lambs!  We also added a Jersey Cow to our Heritage Farm Herd.  We’re milking her twice daily and she’s giving us fantastic rich raw milk.  Only available for sale as pet-food currently.  But what you do with your pet food is your business.  I’ve made some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had with her cream, as well as butter and hundreds of cinnamon rolls!  These additions weren’t going to save us though.  So after much deliberating, several job offers, 2 possible moves, 1 part time job, and much prayer we’ve made our decision.  Heritage Farm will not be relying so heavily on chicken in 2014 and years after.  We will increase our ruminant (sheep & cattle) amounts as possible and stay strong with pork.  We are going to focus on our Buying Clubs.  These folks are amazing.  They have become family to us.    I get alteast 1-2 emails a week asking to be added to our email list.  These people don’t want extravagant things like multi colored peppers and purple beans; no they want the staples: celery, lettuce, eggs, potatoes, peppers & kale.  They will order whatever we offer and clean us out!  We love working with you guys.  We’re going to invest in you, so please help us out and spread the word about us.  We want to reach more people with farm fresh food you can come and see for yourself.    We will still provide chicken to our faithful restaurants, but we aren’t looking to gain any more.  Have I mentioned about the restaurant Legume yet?  Let me tell you a mini  version of this tale:

Legume’s chef Trevit Hooper came to Pete and said that he was interested in GMO free local chicken.  At the time we didn’t do GMO free chicken.  The quantity he wanted made us think more about going GMO free though.  So we went to our feed mill.  They didn’t raise GMO free grains.  They would have to truck it all in from Virginia.  And the fee was going to be high, consequently our price would have doubled.  We worried our local markets wouldn’t like that change and that our Buying Club folks may not like that price either.  We told Trevit we couldn’t.  He said he’d still take our chicken.  Our Feed mill called and said they got some local GMO free corn really cheap for this year only and we can make the ration for GMO free feed!  Horray!!!  So we started with our GMO free chickens, then pigs & layers too!  Trevit at Legume has been great to work with.  He understands that in order for us to make a living people have to buy what we’re selling and that means they have to like the price.  If you want good food you’re going to have to pay good money for it. We’re currently selling Legume around 30+ chickens a week and continue to do the same through the season into next year.  He wants local and knows to talk to the farmers to see how they are raising the products he wants.

So that’s life up here.  I’ve started a baking business through the farm and it is going really well.  My food is becoming known and sought after.  I love to do it, as it is helping earn us what we need to live on, and lets me stay home with my little man.   (I plan to do a “personal life” blog post later next week, to catch you up to life here at home)

I can sum up my entire tale with this:  We’ve were knocked down, thought about pulling out, decided that this is where we need to be, and are investing in a future here.   And through it all we know that God sustains us.  He is our sole provider.  Everything may fall apart, but He will take care of it.  He will be glorified through everything.  That’s why we do what we do; to bring Glory and Honor to the one who made it all.    Be encouraged friends, He is faithful.